Weekly reading 11

Jun 07, 2020
HBO Max Launches, Amazon and Roku, Apple in 3rd - stratechery:

Apple — like podcasts! — practically invented this category, and there they are, in a distant 3rd. A big reason for their slide is that that Apple TV has simply been too expensive for too long. Amazon and Roku have massively undercut the Apple TV in price, and while Apple has finally responded with built-in apps on some high-end Samsung TVs, it is definitely a case of too little too late.

Apple never gives anything to TV industry at all. It launched Apple TV the hardware in 2007, during the heydays of iPod. The product (and service) has since been changed back and forth. It never has a clear and consistent vision in terms of a product. It never gets much traction. I am surprised it has 13% of streaming traffic, but it’s more likely that other more prominent Apple products created the network effect that drive it, not the other way around.

Even Apple TV+, the streaming service, whose effort is serious and significant, looks more like a catch-up to competitors than a fundamental development. At best case it is a moderate add-on to the eventual “Apple bundle”.

《锵锵三人行》20080430 窦文涛:1918年西班牙流感时人人戴口罩(许子东 吴淡如) - youtube:



You Can Pay Credit Suisse Not to Work There - bloomberg:

Another version of this model is fraud, though. If your business model is not to sell your product for more than it costs to make it, but just to sell as much of it as possible, the obvious move is to sell a lot of it to yourself. Pay yourself a billion dollars for a billion widgets and you’ve added a billion dollars of revenue, which is great if investors will pay you a multiple of revenue for your stock.

The important thing to understand why people do such thing is exactly think of fraud as a business model: yes it has risks and it legally and morally wrong, but its upside could be huge so among entrepreneurs there will always be a few whose ROI calculation shows them the return triumphs the risk so this is a viable business model. Same applies to all the businesses that make knockoffs and counterfeits, or child labor, or Foxconn suicide squad. It is a part of capitalism.

Speaking of this, if everyone in a country believes and is constantly doing it, does it mean the country follows capitalism? I mean this country teaches everyone to not be capitalists, instead be a socialist, or even better, a patriot. But after all seems capitalism works out the best there. Would we call it a capitalism nation?

Earnings Restuls for the Fiscal Year ended March 31, 2020 - group:

Data-driven and evidence-driven is so 1980, magical storytelling is the ultimate skill to success.

Analysis on Impacts of Driver Reclassification - medium:

We have undertaken an internal assessment of what changes Uber’s California ridesharing business would need to make if it were forced to convert drivers to employees. We estimate that rider prices would need to increase 25–111% across different parts of California to cover increased costs.

I still believe fundamentally Uber helps the society in many ways. For consumers it’s still the most convenient or only way in some cases for transportation. It creates a whole unique kind of earning income: the immediateness and the flexibility.

Still, the success of Uber (and many other like Airbnb and Doordash) lies on top of “disrupting bad regulations”. The major or entire reason that the business thrives is the fact that it plays in a field where it doesn’t obey the rules while all its competitors do. Yes Uber has all the nice UI, smart dispatching algorithm, advanced pricing model, but truth is they are all nice add-ons.

The fact that Uber is undercutting regulations doesn’t make it bad or wrong. Instead this is probably how it works in a large picture. Taxi industry does look like quite anti-competitive and is highly regulated. At some point there has to be disruptions for better or worse.

Eventually Uber might become another behemoth that sets its own regulations. This is the endgame it pursues for sure: covering a market large enough that it can set its own rules (and the price). By then things cycle all the way around and there will be new companies to disrupt Uber.

More economic support; HK national security law this month?; More setbacks for Huawei; June 4 - sinocism:

Tomorrow is the 31th anniversary of the June 4 tragedy. There is schadenfreude in certain parts of the PRC over the current protests in the US, but playing them up too hard poses risks for the CCP, especially if they proceed peacefully and result in accountability and change (One can always hope…). See Item 6.

The way CCP does propaganda is one of the most twisted effort that whoever does it have to constantly contradict themselves. To some extent I highly respect their sacrifice of individuals for the greater good.

Check out the police brutality to peaceful protesters in US! But…we…stand with HK police? Look even US media themselves are criticizing US gov! But we must…punish whoever dare to say a bad thing of the party? Look at how strong, united, and invincible our people are! But no one…is allowed to see anything from outside of the wall as everyone there is trying to split us?

Again nothing but respect. All this is very difficult for the people that are being propaganda’d though.

Dust in the Light - stratechery:

And, relatedly, you can’t escape the impact on Madison. In 2018 African Americans made up 7% of the population but 43% of arrests and 46% of Dane County Jail inmates; African American students were 18% of the school district, but received 57% of suspensions; 10 percent of African American students received an “advanced” or “proficient” score on the math portion of Wisconsin’s standardized testing, while 61% of white students did the same (the proportions were similar for all subjects). Meanwhile the average house price in the Burr Oaks neighborhood (which includes Badger Road) is $145,300; the Madison average is $300,967.

The thing about the black discrimination is, it’s a chicken and egg problem. Is the biased view leads to more arrests, or the frequent arrest results in the biased view? Why it became like this? Because after so many years of struggles that originally stems from slavery, it just becomes a deep-rooted part of the society, without a clear way out. It looks to be one of those things that you have to burn down and build from scratch entirely.

Zoom’s Earnings, Zoom and AWS, Zoom and End-to-end Encryption - stratechery:

This is remarkable on multiple levels. First, we are 14 years into the public cloud revolution, and the impact is probably still underrated. A company in Zoom’s position previously would not only have been incapable of building out so much capacity so quickly — actually building data centers and filling them with servers takes time! — but would not have done so even if they could have. After all, once you build it, you own it, and what happens if demand drops after the pandemic?

Instead, though, Zoom could not only meet demand, but it could in fact generate even more demand (by offering Zoom for free to schools, for example) because its costs were marginal, not fixed (notice, by the way, that while I usually spend a lot of time talking about how the Internet eliminated marginal costs for information-based industries, in this case the transformation is the introduction of marginal costs).

This is very bullish to the cloud business. Looks like they will be like the utility or infra companies that just gonna serve as the bedrock of the broad societal activities.

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